How Does It Work And Who Should Be Using It.


Foam Rolling has become a much talked about topic in recent years but what exactly is it and how does it work?

Foam rolling is a method in which we can ‘self-release’ our muscles to massage out any tightness in the muscles to allow the muscle bodies to move more freely. It can be used before and after exercise or just as an everyday stretching and mobility routine. Foam rolling is not just a technique for sporting athletes – all active individuals can benefit from taking a few extra minutes to foam roll in order to enhance the recovery and performance of our muscles.

How does it work?

By using your foam roller to apply pressure to a tight area in your muscle you can reduce the muscle tone which can in turn help improve your flexibility, mobility and overall muscle condition. This can help improve your overall movement patterns which may help you to participate more effectively in sport. 

Foam rolling may also help to play a role in injury prevention as it aims to maintain flexibility, decreasing the likelihood of muscle injuries. Foam rolling can also act as useful indication of when your muscles are beginning to tighten even though you may not feel any tightness when performing an activity. 

By using your foam roller after vigorous exercise, you may be able to decrease perceived delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by improving blood flow in the region which facilitates blood lactate removal and oxygen delivery to the muscle.

How do you Foam Roll?

Place the foam roller on the floor and put your body weight on the foam roller through the muscle or muscle group that you want to release. When foam rolling, always stay on the muscle tissue and do not roll on tendons, joints or bony structures. It is more effective to start by placing the roller on the sensitive or knotted spot and gradually increasing the amount of pressure. Remain on the tight spot until the muscle releases but no longer than one minute. However, you don’t have to spend a huge amount of time foam rolling – evidence suggests that foam rolling a muscle for just 30-60 seconds at a time and repeating this, 2-5 times can be beneficial for enhancing joint flexibility. 

Although foam rolling is said to have beneficial short-term effects on increasing flexibility without decreasing muscle performance, it is still an area of emerging research that has not yet reached its peak. As such, there is currently no consensus on the optimal time, pressure and cadence that should be used when foam rolling. 


Some tips to get started:

  • Start slowly and with a moderate pressure 
  • Roll the entire length of the muscle(s) that your are trying to release
  • Ease into the muscle and as it begins to release the intensity of pain will decrease
  • When you find areas that are particularly tight you may pause for several seconds (but no more than 1 minute)
  • Try to relax your body as much as possible 
  • In order to get the most effective results, use the roller prior to stretching
  • You only need to spend a few minutes foam rolling before and after workouts 

Foam Rollers are available to purchase from Front of House at PhysioCare.


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